Restaurant Review: Niko's Bistro

>> Tuesday, December 10, 2013

At a recent dinner, we were talking about restaurants we’ve always wanted to try and are super high on the ‘must visit’ list but for some reason…we never get there. Niko’s Bistro was this elusive restaurant on my list. Every time I’m in Kensington, I make a mental note to drop in for lunch or dinner. Considering I live just up the hill from Kensington, I really don’t have a good excuse.  One afternoon, we happened to be in the area to grab a quick bite for lunch, so when we walked by Niko’s and realized that it wasn’t busy (for once), I finally got my chance!
Atmosphere: Casual contemporary design in a cozy and warm setting.
Price Range: Mid $10s - $20s

Food & Wine: After some tough decisiong making, I ordered the Cod con Proscuitto, which is pan seared con wrapped in prosciutto, simple yet extremely tasty. It came with pasta aglio e olio and bruschetta on the side. Everything on the plate was perfectly executed, but I couldn’t believe how flavourful my pasta was especially because it only contained olive oil and garlic. The pasta had the perfect combination of chewiness and unctuousness making it a spectacular bite. I was glad to have gotten to cod because it was light but was able to hold its own against the amazing pasta.
My husband ordered the Spaghettini Frutti di Mare. Spaghettini, slightly thinner noodles than spaghetti or linguine was served with baby shrimps, baby clames, calamari, mussels and tiger prawns in a white wine tomato sauce with a healthy amount of olive oil. Seafood and pasta is a classic. This dish again highlighted the perfectly cooked al dente pasta in all its glory. My husband really enjoyed the dish, even though he normally prefers linguine to any other pasta type, which attests to how the chefs were able to skillfully handle the pasta. You really can’t go wrong with a lovely white wine sauce and succulent seafood with amazing noodles.

Since it was lunch we didn’t get a bottle of wine even though they had a nice Italian wine selection. We opted to end the meal with a couple of cappuccinos. They were very well pulled cappuccinos with just the right amount of foam to milk to coffee ratios, reminding me of the Italian cafes lining the side streets in Rome.
My Picks: Aglio e olio pasta or any pasta dish
Overall: I’ve been meaning to check out Niko’s for a really long time now and am kicking myself after this meal that I waited so long to do so. The bright side was that I did stop in and now I can’t wait to go back. Especially with the weather the way it’s been what better way to keep warm then with a nice healthy comforting dish of amazingly cooked pasta!
Niko's Bistro
1241 Kensington Road NW
Calgary, AB
Niko's Bistro on Urbanspoon


Restaurant Review: Arch Persian Lounge

>> Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A friend and I were chatting this morning about how important family is to us. One of the main reasons why I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world is because I wouldn’t want to be too far away from my parents. Family is where I define home. So it’s nice to see that there are still restaurants in town with the same family owned atmosphere and warmth. The new Arch Persian Lounge in Inglewood is one of those places.
Atmosphere: Open dining room surrounding with Middle Eastern colors and décor.
Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+
Food & Wine: After a quick perusal of the menu, both my dining companion and I knew that we were going to be getting a various selection of the dips as our appetizers. We both enjoy not only the tastes of the various Middle Eastern dips but also the interactive manner in which you consume them. There is something unexplainable with the heightened enjoyment of food when you’re taking the time truly savour every bite. Having to tear apart the bread assists in that regard. Plus, the bread at Arch is unlike any I’ve ever tasted before. It’s bigger than the size of a large dinner plate with portions of it slightly charred providing extra flavour to the pita. We couldn’t get enough of it.

My favourite dip to accompany the pita was the hummus. It was creamy and smooth flavored with lovely spices and topped with unctuous olive oil. We also tried the Eggplant (kahk-o bademjan) spread, similar to a baba ganoush but with a lingering smokiness at the end. The Cucumber (mast-o khiyar) was yogurt based, similar to a tzatziki but a bit less creamy. It also went very well with some of their main offerings.
As our entrée we shared the Kabob Shahi, which is a choice of two kebobs offered on the menu and served with saffron rice and grilled vegetables. We decided on the Kabob Chenjeh – roasted lamb sirloin and the Kabob Barg – grilled beef tenderloin with saffron and other spices. Although the meats were either grilled or roasted, they were done so perfectly. For those who dislike gamey meat, you need not worry. The lamb is marinated in various spices removing all the gaminess. If lamb isn’t quite your thing, the beef tenderloin is also a great option. Just as succulent and tasty, the spices really highlight the beef. Also not to be missed was the saffron rice, which was fragrant and a great accompaniment to both proteins.
Our wine that evening was the Dominio de Punctum, a Spanish Tempranillo and Petit Verdot blend. A full bodied wine with earthy cherry notes, it was bold enough to stand against the grilled meats but balanced enough to be drunk on its own.
My Pick: Kabob Shahi

Overall: The food was delectable and the service was very attentive. It definitely felt like they were opening up their home to us and you could taste it in the food. I’m glad to see a Middle Eastern restaurant in that part of town and even happier to support a family owned establishment.

Arch Persian Lounge
1211 9 Ave SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 474-2828
Arch Persian Lounge on Urbanspoon

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